Software forms a significant part of modern life. It is hard to imagine the 21st century without it: for example, autonomous driving or modern traffic light circuits at intersections are based on computer programmes – not to mention online banking or smartphones, which hardly anyone would want to do without. In short: life without coming into contact with software is hardly possible any more. So it is hardly surprising that developers and companies want to use patents to protect software from use by third parties.
Protecting digital progress with patents
As with other inventions, software must be protected against imitation or unlawful use by third parties. Here, too, programmes are the product of decades of development and high costs for developers. In order to use the resources employed to economic advantage, software should be patented. In this way, exclusive use is possible on the highly competitive software market.
Although software has been developed and brought to market for decades, developers with patenting plans often face obstacles when it comes to having their programmes protected. While this had been relatively easy in the US market for many years, developers and applicants face hurdles when they want to patent software in Germany or Europe.
After years of litigation, so-called “computer-implemented inventions” are now patented. A software as such cannot be patented, but ideas for processes and methods that are executed by software can. This includes, for example, programmes that are executed on a computer, processor, control device or similar and control technical components, cause a technical interaction of components, etc.
Fully programmed software (i.e. the actual “source code”), in turn, can independently fall under copyright and thus be protected in this way.
At present, about ten percent of patent applications filed are software patents, i.e. software patents are filed in large numbers and play an important role in business and industry. Our patent attorneys at RGTH support our clients in evaluating their software developments and obtaining optimal protection.
Algorithms as such as a mathematical method cannot be patented – however, there are exceptions, e.g. algorithms that are used in the technical field. In this case, the algorithm must solve a concrete, technical problem in order to fulfil the requirements of patent protection.
Furthermore, copyright can also apply to algorithms, namely if they have been used in a completed programme. Here, however, copyright refers to the complete software, not to the algorithm itself. Here, too, our patent attorneys advise our clients comprehensively and develop a strategy with them to protect their software.
Our experienced attorneys find out whether our clients’ software meets the requirements of technicality or can be protected by copyright before filing any patent applications.
They then jointly develop a development concept and, if necessary, conduct an extensive patent search to identify existing patents as well as similar patents. This enables our clients to avoid patent infringements in advance. This is followed by the customised patent application. From this point on, our clients’ technical ideas or computer-implemented inventions are protected against misuse by third parties. Should patent infringements occur, our experienced attorneys represent our clients in court to enforce their property rights.
What does a software patent cost?
The official fees for software patents do not differ from the application for other patents. Consequently, a fee is required for filing, searching and examining the application. The costs for the services of our experienced patent attorneys depend on the effort and the complexity of the respective subject. In this complex field, quite high costs are usually to be expected. In addition, costs are incurred in each case for the extension of the term of protection.
We advise you in particular in the following areas
- Artificial intelligence
- Cloud computing
- Computer-implemented inventions
- Business Models
Our patent attorneys for software
Thanks to our worldwide network, the patent attorneys of RGTH can advise our clients competently and professionally on all patent and IP law issues. Our interdisciplinary set-up also enables us to develop cross-disciplinary patent strategies and file patents. Our attorneys bring years of experience and practical industry knowledge to the table. Thus, we offer our clients comprehensive advice and protection of their IP rights – no matter in which field.